Lågstadiebarn i en byskola i norra Etiopien. Sida stöder UNICEF:s utbildningsprojekt i landet.

Primary school children in a village school in northern Ethiopia. Sida is supporting UNICEF’s development project in the country.

Photo: Ton Koene/ANP/Scanpix

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UNICEF brings schools to pupils

Published: 4 September 2009 Updated: 24 June 2014

For many children in Ethiopia’s rural areas, going to school is a far-off dream that never comes true. Their difficult economic situation means that children are often responsible for supporting the family. Sida is supporting UNICEF’s work to redefine the idea of the traditional school and find new solutions to old problems.

Much of Ethiopia contains nomadic folk groups that struggle for their daily bread on barren pastures. There is little or no opportunity to go to school there. Mobile schools are used in one of many UNICEF projects in Ethiopia to reach out to the forgotten children. UNICEF’s educational project in Ethiopia

  • Alternative basic education centres
  • Cluster schools
  • Child-friendly schools

Alternative basic education centres

Alternative solutions are needed for those children who have been excluded from the educational system for geographical or cultural reasons. UNICEF has designed a programme for mobile schools that reaches pupils in Ethiopia’s most far-flung regions. The schools are highly flexible for their specific context, and the timetable is adapted according to the children’s needs.

Malin Elisson, Sida’s programme officer for education in Ethiopia, says: “In these extremely far-flung areas, UNICEF goes in where the state’s own mechanisms are not up to it. There are simply no other solutions to reach these children. The model has become so successful that some states have integrated it into the formal school system, which is a huge success.” 

Cluster schools

In just 10 years, the number of children in the Ethiopian school system has rocketed. But the increasing amount of pupils means that the quality of the teaching could suffer. UNICEF has developed a programme that links smaller schools in one area to a central school. The main school is the centre for resources; teachers can also meet there to further improve their teaching.

“The school system has expanded very quickly in Ethiopia, and the number of teachers has doubled in four or five years,” Elisson says. “Today, almost all resources go to teachers’ salaries, and cluster schools could therefore be a good solution to maximize resources and maintain quality in teaching.” 

Child-friendly schools

Child-friendly schools place the needs of the children at the centre. The school’s staff are trained to handle the specific social situations in which they work. This could involve many different measures: psychological help for traumatized children; looking after handicapped pupils; paying particular attention to girls’ situations based on a gender perspective; and extra training within health and sanitation.

“Child-friendly schools are a pilot scheme to identify how to improve quality in schools,” Elisson says. “You can integrate equality and other social issues into the school here. The model is an important tool in finding new solutions and creating a dialogue about how the existing school can improve.”  

UNICEF in Ethiopia

UNICEF has been working in Ethiopia since 1952. The overall target is to support national and regional efforts to realize children’s rights to survival, development and security. ·        

  • Alternative basic education centres offer education to more than 150,000 children.
  • The school cluster model has so far reached almost 800,000 pupils.
  • The child-friendly schools concept has benefited 157,000 children.

Page owner: Department for Africa

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